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October 2018
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Teen Organizers Volunteer in the Lenox Neighborhood

By Teen Organizer Tahnaree Evans

Spending a Saturday afternoon at the Church of Saint Augustine and Saint Martin seemed perfect, due to the fact that Thanksgiving was coming up around the corner. The teen organizers were there to do community service in the Lenox neighborhood, where we have focused organizing efforts in Ramsay Park throughout the summer and fall. We helped Crosstown Church volunteers cook and serve a community Thanksgiving meal. Meeting people who I had never met before was fantastic. Also, just having the joy of being able to dance with my friends and to feel like part of a community was an amazing way to spend my Saturday afternoon. Not to mention, the food (especially the green beans), was delicious to eat and I enjoyed every moment of it.



Tahnaree, Jaylean and Dominick serving delicious Thanksgiving food cooked by the genius chefs from Crosstown Church.


Tahnaree, Jaylean, Dominick and Dominick’s mentor, D!





SSYP teens meet retired Red Sox pitching great Pedro Martinez at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute

By: Teen Organizer Dominick Jackson
On November 19, a group of of young people had the opportunity to go to the EMK institute to be part of a public conversation with Pedro Martinez. The 8-time All Star, 3-time Cy Young Award winner, and newly inducted Baseball Hall of Famer dominated opponents from the mound for the Red Sox from 1998-2004. He was part of the 2004 World Series Championship team which delivered a stunning come-from-behind victory 86 years in the making.
Pedro M and Franklin

In an interview prior to the event, Pedro talked about how proud he was to be a part of Boston’s Latino community; “I am Lynn, I am Jamaica Plain, I am Lawrence, I am Providence, I am Roxbury. The best moments of my career happened in Boston and I will always carry them in my heart,” he said.

During the conversation with Boston Public School students, he talked about growing up thinking he would either become a pediatrician or a baseball player. Despite the discouragment he received from people who thought he was too small (he’s 5’9″ by generous measure) to ever make it to the major leagues, he went on to become one of the most dominant pitchers ever to play the game, an especially remarkable feat in an era of rampant abuse of performance-enhancing drugs. He advised the young people in the audience to take advantage of growing up in America, which he called “the land of opportunity.”
One young person immediately started reading “Pedro,” Pedro Martinez’s autobiography (that he got at the event) and was enthralled in learning all about Pedro’s childhood in Manoguayabo, outside of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. A St. Stephen’s Youth Programs alum talked about meeting Pedro as a lifetime-best experience.
Pedro Martinez at the Edward Kennedy Institute

© 2015 Eric Haynes

In other relevant baseball news from November 19, a bust of Puerto Rican hero Roberto Clemente was installed adjacent to the Blackstone School in the Puerto Rican Veterans Monument Square in the South End Clemente played for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955-1972, winning 12 consecutive Gold Glove awards, batting over .300 for 13 consecutive seasons, and amassing over 3,000 hits throughout his career. He was killed in an airplane crash in 1972 while on a humanitarian mission to Nicaragua and became the first Latin American player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973.

Globe Photo: Luis Clemente (son of Roberto Clemente) and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh at the unveiling ceremony (also that’s Felix Arroyo Sr. in the back- Felix Arroyo Jr. was at EMK!)

Books and Bulbs in the Blackstone

Following the AmeriCorps Swearing In Ceremony, 40 Mass Promise Fellows visited the Blackstone School for an afternoon of service. This was the first service event B-PEACE has sponsored this school year!  School partnerships and service are the primary way B-PEACE works toward its goal of academic excellence in public schools.

The event began with an address to the volunteers at the school’s library from Lisa Lineweaver, representing the school’s Executive Leadership Team. Lisa spoke about the school’s turnaround story and the students the Blackstone serves.  The school is one of the only BPS schools to serve students with multiple disabilities, and therefore draws students from all around Boston.  Lisa also spoke about the school’s motto, Ubuntu, meaning, “we are because of each other”, and the school’s core values: respect, unity, and excellence.  The presence of the volunteers that afternoon, said Lisa, was a way of showing, and not just telling, the students that the school community strives to live its motto.

B-Peace BlackstoneFollowing Lisa’s introduction to the school, Tim Crellin, the founder and Executive Director of St. Stephen’s Youth Programs, spoke about the South End community that surrounds the Blackstone and the flourishing relationship between the Blackstone and St. Stephen’s.  In addition to facilitating service days like this one, St. Stephen’s runs the Blackstone Library, coordinates Support-A-Classroom, and oversees classroom aids from Wellesley College.

After the orientation in the library, volunteers joined students in their classrooms for an afternoon of reading!  A teacher hosting volunteers said he was delighted by his students’ enthusiasm to read with the volunteers. Several teachers expressed interest in hosting similar events to empower students and foster a love for reading. 

After school was dismissed, the Mass Promise volunteers and St. Stephen’s after-school students and staff spent the sunny afternoon at the Blackstone Park and Ramsay Park weeding the garden, planting daffodil bulbs, and playing kickball.

B-Peace Blackstone 2

B-PEACE Teen Organizers part of neighborhood peace walk

On Thursday afternoon, the B-PEACE for Jorge teen organizers joined about 30 people from local churches (including many clergy), police officers and community members in front of Grant A.M.E. Church for a neighborhood walk for peace to end to street violence. The route crossed Washington Street and wound through Ramsay Park, where B-PEACE teen organizers have been involved in a campaign to increase neighborhood safety.  “I was proud to walk through Ramsay Park, because people were noticing the art we had created over the summer. The point of the mural and the tiles was to make people feel safer in Ramsay Park.” said B-PEACE teen organizer Tahnaree Evans.
Community members join hands as part of the Peace Walk

Community members join hands as part of the Peace Walk

Law enforcement officers and members of the clergy introduced themselves to residents in the Lenox-Camden housing development and lead prayers for peace and an end to violence in the neighborhood. “These walks bring everyone together,” said neighborhood resident and B-PEACE organizer Jhanel Potts. “A lot of people feel some type of way about the cops. Cops were there and nothing bad happened, no one got arrested, so people felt more like they could trust cops.  And get the sense that not all cops are bad and we can trust some of them.” B-PEACE organizer Dominick Jackson agreed, “It was awesome to see people I haven’t seen in a long time and to see that lots of people I know care about my neighborhood. And that we were talking about the problem of violence in the community and people had to listen.”

Clergy and law enforcement are teaming up to organize a series of walks in neighborhoods throughout the city in response to the uptick in violence this summer, with the goal of strengthening community-police relationships so everyone can work together to reduce neighborhood violence.

St. Stephen's teen organizers discuss community safety in Lower Roxbury

St. Stephen’s teen organizers discuss community safety in Lower Roxbury

St. Stephen's teen Domenic chats with a police officer during the Peace Walk

St. Stephen’s teen Dominick Jackson chats with a police officer during the Peace Walk

Fall Cleanup in Ramsay Park

On Saturday, October 24th, the Friends of Ramsay Park spent the morning giving the park a thorough fall cleaning. Neighbors from the South End and Lower Roxbury were joined by Northeastern students (as part of the Northeastern Center for Community Service’s NU Service Day), Washington Gateway Main Streets, teens from Vibrant Boston, and members of the South End Community Church and Emmanuel Gospel Center (as part of the Unite Boston BostonServes day). They raked up dozens of bags of leaves, picked up trash, and planted hundreds of daffodil bulbs around the tennis courts and the airplane statue that commemorates Captain David Ramsay. The day concluded with a performance by the Praise and Worship team from People’s Baptist Church, lead by the rockstar Reverend David Wright of the Black Ministerial Alliance.


The Littlest Friend of Ramsay Park


Northeastern NU Serves Volunteers

Expanding The Circle Of Care

downsized_0606151104aSt. Stephen’s Youth Programs serves many young people who live in Lower Roxbury/South End neighborhoods, but go to school in distant parts of the city. The Edison K-8 School in Brighton is one of these. Several elementary and middle school students in B-READY After-School Program attend the Edison (and Jorge Fuentes, his brother, and his mom, Myrna graduated from the school.) We have been partnering with the Edison for three years to expand the circle of care around the young people in our programs.
downsized_0606151107Last weekend, we partnered with FoodCorps, Grace Episcopal Church, and the Community of Faith Christian Fellowship to clean up the school’s outdoor classroom and garden space. We spent the morning weeding garden beds, picking up trash, painting, turning compost, cleaning the garden shed, reorganizing rocks to make paths and places for kids to sit and do group work.
Teachers and students at the school are looking forward to using the outdoor classroom this spring, and volunteers are looking forward to another Day of Action in the fall.

Posted by Sarah O’Connor, Lower Roxbury Community Organizer, JOIN Fellow

Teen Organizers Plan Ramsay Park Mural

0608151827Teen Organizers Veronica and Dominick spent Monday evening soliciting feedback and input from community members about the design of the mural they plan to paint this summer. The project is part of a larger effort to enhance the social, cultural, and athletic use of this neighborhood asset. Pictured left at the Ramsay Park playground, a young person is adding his idea — “There should be PIZZA!” to the mural.

Posted by Sarah O’Connor, Lower Roxbury School And Community Organizer